Dendreon Stays in the Hunt, Lilly Makes Amends, Calistoga Hires First CEO, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News

10/9/08Follow @xconomy

Fall is in the air, at least one baseball team in an Xconomy city is still alive (Red Sox, of course) and biotech news is coming out full throttle every day. Isn’t it a wonderful time of year?

—Dendreon announced that its interim analysis of the 500-patient Impact trial of Provenge wasn’t the sort of home run that could lead to an instant application to the FDA, but that the prostate cancer drug is certainly within hailing distance of its goal of prolonging lives when the final analysis is due in mid-2009. The stock shot up 33 percent on the day of the news, but has since given back most of the gains, closing yesterday at $5.60.

—The Institute for Systems Biology formed a partnership with Complete Genomics, a Mountain View, CA-based company that plans to usher in the era of the $5,000 service for sequencing an entire human genome. The ISB’s scientists plan to sequence genomes from 100 individuals in 2009, and 2,000 the following year. OVP Venture Partners’ Chad Waite gave us the skinny on how this approach differs from the other genomics companies out there.

Eli Lilly made some effort to patch up relations with the Seattle biotech community this week, by holding a press conference about its support for a tuberculosis drug discovery effort going on at the Infectious Disease Research Institute here in Seattle. Lilly laid off more than 300 people at Icos when it bought that company almost two years ago, but it donated some expensive equipment and put $6 million in cash into an effort to use the equipment for developing new TB drugs.

—Another remnant of the former Icos, Calistoga Pharmaceuticals, reported this week that it has hired a Biogen Idec commercial veteran as its founding CEO. Calistoga, which got its original intellectual property from Icos, has a blood cancer clinical trial ongoing, and CEO Carol Gallagher is working on a game plan for how to make sure its lead drug lives up to its potential.

—From the medical device community, good news from Spiration. The Redmond, WA-based maker of a minimally-invasive device for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease said its partner, Tokyo-based Olympus, will begin selling its system in Europe. Trials still need to wrap up here in the U.S. before it can win FDA approval, but this could bring in a little cash in the meantime to keep things moving along.

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